Is smartphone addiction a reality? Here’s what to know about healthy smartphone use and when it might be time to step away from the screen. To help you break an unhealthy habit, there is also a tips section to reduce phone use throughout the day. You don’t have to ditch smartphones altogether to cut down on the time you spend scrolling, but you can learn to limit yourself.
What is smartphone addiction?
Smartphones have increased connectivity and productivity in ways that are almost impossible to overstate. However, for some people there is definitely the potential for too much of a good thing.
Although exact definitions vary, smartphone addiction can include obsessively checking or using your phone, feeling restless when away from the phone, and using your phone in a way that interferes with social life or other activities, according to the International Journal of Cognition and Behavior. It is sometimes linked to an overall addiction to the Internet.
Additionally, smartphone addiction or overuse is a common problem for many people, so you’re not alone if browsing takes longer than you’d like. Smartphones provide your brain with a dump of social stimuli through constant texting and social media notifications, making it hard to look away, according to Harvard University. It’s no wonder so many people find it difficult to ignore their phones for long periods of time.
The Downsides of Smartphone Addiction
In many cases, smartphone overuse is correlated with anxiety, poor sleep quality, and even physical problems in the fingers, neck, back, and shoulders, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. . If you’ve ever stayed up too late on your phone, some of these symptoms might sound familiar.
Also, spending hours on the phone can leave less time for other hobbies or social activities.
How to use your smartphone less
If you want to cut down on smartphone use for any reason, take a few steps to wean yourself off it slowly. Chances are, it’s easier to reduce your usage bit by bit than to make a sudden, major change to your current smartphone habits.
1. Make your phone less fun
Make the colorful and irresistible smartphone a little less interesting. It sounds simple, but reducing the bright, punchy colors instantly makes the phone look more boring and less likely to grab your attention. Apps, websites and even texts lose some of their appeal.
To get started, set its screen to grayscale. On Android phones, enable developer mode before selecting the Monochromacy option under the Simulate color space The settings. A YouTube video by Trent B1 covers all the steps in detail.
To enable grayscale on an iPhone, go to Settingsafterwards Accessibility. To select Display and text sizeand finally Color filters. Picking out Shades of greyand watch your phone colors fade.
Then turn off notifications to help reduce distractions. Whether you want to stop notifications for your Android phone or control notifications for your iPhone, reducing them will help make the phone a little less interesting.
Worried about missing calls or messages? Dedicate specific times of the day to catch up on text messages and return calls. By replying to messages in set batches, you can stay focused for longer periods of time while staying in touch with your contacts.
2. Monitor your screen time
Set goals for how much time you want to spend on the phone each day and stick to them. Somewhat counterintuitively, downloading an app designed to monitor screen time can help here.
The OffScreen app helps limit overall screen time usage. Choose the maximum time to spend on the phone each day during setup. Additionally, the OffScreen app monitors your movements to prevent phone use while walking. It also gives you the option to block certain apps at certain times of the day to improve concentration.
A progress screen tracks your phone usage over time and notes exactly how long you go without touching the phone during a day.
Download: OffScreen: Screen Time Control App for iOS | Android (subscription required, free trial available)
3. Be aware of your pickups
It can be so easy to fiddle with the phone whenever there’s a lag in your day (and chances are almost everyone around you is on the phone, too). Find ways to reward yourself for leaving the phone alone to keep this common habit under control.
Using the Forest app rewards you for ignoring the phone for a set amount of time, for example. Stay focused during set work sessions to grow a virtual forest filled with an incredible variety of trees.
Also, check screen time on Android in the Digital Wellbeing screen, which displays the number of times you unlock the phone. On an iPhone, check the mic count on the Apple Screen Time feature. Keeping track of mics and gradually learning to play with the phone less often will result in less screen usage overall.
4. Keep your phone away from the bed
It’s so tempting to keep scrolling late into the night. However, playing on the phone at bedtime is often associated with poorer sleep quality, and experts often recommend keeping smartphones out of the bedroom, according to Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. For many people, the temptation to check the phone at all hours of the night is hard to ignore.
Break that habit by leaving the phone in another room and using a smart alarm clock (or traditional alarm clock) instead. It might take a bit of getting used to, so experiment with the best way to store your phone. You might want to keep it in an adjoining room to hear in case late calls come in, for example. Other people might prefer to keep it completely.
To spend less time on the phone each day, using time-tracking apps, reducing notifications, and moving the phone away from your bed can all help reduce overall usage. Whether you want to overcome smartphone addiction or simply increase screen-free time, using the phone more deliberately can help avoid overuse.